Pope Francis has urged mothers to stop ironing their son’s shirts and instead start encouraging them to get married. Speaking during a service to mark the end of the 10th World Meeting of Families, he told adult men not to ‘take the easy road’ and return to their mothers in ‘moments of difficulty’. Instead, he added, they should ‘move ahead with this courageous gamble’.
Believers and representatives of the Catholic Church gathered in Rome last month for the 10th World Meeting of Families. It had originally been scheduled for 2021. The topics of the meeting were, among others, sexuality, marriage and migration. Criticisms of the marriage guidelines emerged before the meeting, which critics say are no longer up to date.
Pope Francis, concerned about the lowing birth-rate in many countries, warned over-protective parents that familial love should not be possessive but ‘be for freedom always’. Parents should not take sides in and should avoid interfering. Pope Francis went on to elaborate on how parents and clergy should be encouraging young people to get out and take the risks associated with adulthood, most especially by setting up their own homes and getting married. In other words, even the Pope thinks it’s time for us to stop babying our children and send them out into the world to become men and women who embrace adulthood.
‘Adulting’, means engaging in behaviours a young adult still likely associates with his or her parents: paying bills, dealing with paperwork, getting a mortgage, successfully folding a fitted sheet, cooking dinner etc. Many of us started this process in our late teen and early twenties but now it is happening later and later. Last year’s Eurostat research shows that, on average, young Europeans leave their family home at the age of 26 and two months. The Scandinavians become independent most quickly, and the Croats, Greeks, Slovaks and Italians live the longest with their parents, leaving the family nest after the age of 33.
The proportion of Irish people aged 25-29 living with their parents grew at one of the highest rates in Europe over a ten-year period. The Eurofound report found the share of young adults aged 25-29 living with their parents in the Republic of Ireland increased from 36.0% in 2007 to 47.2% in 2017. Northern Ireland has more young people still living at home than any other part of the of the UK, leading the rest by some distance.
With many young people returning to live with their parents after leaving home for the first time, it has led to the current generation of young people being dubbed the ‘Boomerang Generation’. Maybe this has less to do with shirts being ironed by mothers and more about the cost of housing. Whatever the reason, it is certain that marrying later and starting families well into thirties will have a knock-on effect on society as a whole both here and in other parts of the world.